You probably know him best as dashing Doctor Harry Tressler in BBC drama Holby. But before that, he was singing for his supper as one fourth of gorgeous choral manband Blake.
But now, Jules has got Hollywood set in his sights and will be soon heading off to LA, intent on landing a role in a lavish period drama or playing a wicked villain.
Here, handsome Jules opens up about carving out his blossoming acting career, how he helped a pal come out and which Hollywood hunk he’d go gay for.
Jules, you left Holby a while back to return to singing and release an album, how did that go?
I had two really fun years on Holby, but there was really no time to pursue any of my other passions. I started to miss singing, as it has always been such a big part of my life, and i was given the opportunity to make a solo album. It seemed like a good time to move on from Holby and so I grabbed the chance. Im really proud of ‘Change of Heart‘ and I loved taking a break from acting and getting back into the studio. We recorded it at Peter Gabriel’s place down in the beautiful West Country with some amazing old rockers and it was such a nice thing to do. I think I’ve kind of got it out of my system now, and I also learnt that I prefer singing in harmony with other voices.
Holby was your first major role, did it take some getting used to. Was it hard to convince TV peeps that a singer could cross over?
Yeah, I basically went straight from Blake into Holby, and of course people had come to know me as a singer. In this country, we aren’t very comfortable about people crossing over into other fields of interest. They’re much more used to that in America. The funny thing was that I trained to be an actor at Central, and the singing happened because I was offered a £1 million record deal with Universal, and I just went with it. So, to me it was singing that was the unexpected route, not the acting!
Yes, I definitely worked harder on Holby than Ive ever worked before. Lots of early mornings and late nights. After the first few weeks I began to wonder whether I had made the right choice! But you get used to the schedule pretty quickly. I learnt how to act at Holby, not drama school. Drama school is great but it just can’t simulate being on set and actually doing the job. As with most things, you learn by doing. There is a short hand when you’re on a TV or film set that you need to learn pretty fast in order not to slow the process down for other cast members and the crew. Im sure when I started at Holby I was pretty terrible. Being there with so many talented people and filming 80 episodes in 2 years was the best training you could hope for.
This year you are busy chap, aren’t you?
Yes, I filmed Agatha Rasin last summer, which is a sort of murder mystery comedy starring Ashley Jensen and Matthew Horne. It was all filmed in the Cotswolds so it was amazing to be on location in all these beautiful quaint country villages. I really enjoyed it, and got to spend a lot of time with Ashley. Id always admired her because I was a big fan of Extras, and she is an absolute sweetheart and very, very talented. I love watching other actors work, because you can learn (steal) from them. It’s on Sky One this summer, so make sure you catch it. I think people will really enjoy it.
What else are you up to?
I also just finished filming in Lithuania for a WW2 drama for Netflix. Im not actually even allowed to tell you what it’s called but it will probably air in the next few months. It has some very experienced British actors in it, and I played a New Zealand lawyer which was different.
Have these roles been a bit more challenging than Holby?
I think when you’re in a long running show like Holby, it can become slightly repetitive, so for me it was nice to spread my wings a little, and try some new things as an actor. It’s also a very different experience to go on to a set where you are the guest. On Holby, we worked with a lot of guest artists who mainly played hospital patients, and now I know what it’s like to feel a little bit less relaxed!
It must be great to be landing roles in these dramas. Is acting the way you want to go now. Do you still feel like a beginner?
I’m loving the acting work, and I hope to be very busy this year. It’s a very tough business and the competition is insane. I think, from what older actors have told me, you continue learning all the way through your career, and so yes I certainly feel like I’m still in the early stages. Im not quite a green as I was a few years ago though.
And do you learn a lot from people you’ve worked with?
I have taken inspiration and advice from nearly ever actor I’ve worked with. Im like a sponge when it comes to that, because there is so much to learn. Hugh Quarshie (Ric) on Holby was very much the ‘Mufasa’ of the Pride, and I listened to everything he said, because he really knows what he is talking about.
Who would you like to work with?
I’d love to work with Anthony Hopkins one day. I always been totally mesmerised by his understated style of acting. He just gets it right every time.
What would you like to work on next?
I’m really keen to do a period drama, and have been for years and years. In some ways I feel like I was born in the wrong era. Give me a horse and a sword and Ill be happy.
What films roles would you have loved to have played?
I think ‘Dickie’ in The Talented Mr Ripley. Jude Law in that film is nearly enough to turn me gay. He’s a very handsome chap for sure.
We hear you’re off to LA soon? What are you going to be doing there?
Yes, I’ve just got my Green Card and so I imagine I will give it a go out there. There is so much being cast all the time, so Im brushing up on my American accent. And yes I will probably do some acting classes, that is very much an LA thing for all actors.
Brits always play a good villain or a great romancer – which would you be?
I would love to do some more villain type roles. I do think they are more interesting to play in many ways. Especially the ones who start nice and turn out to be nasty.
If you make it there, would you turn your back on Blighty for good?
It’s hard to say, I actually have to be there for at least six months of every year to keep the green card. But my family are here, and there is a lot that I love about the UK. Im sure Ill always go between the two countries.
We couldn’t but notice that you’ve been transforming your bod over the past year – is that for the Hollywood market?
I’ve actually been working out a lot since university, so it is not just for my acting career, its also a lifestyle choice. It makes me feel good. Having said that, I am in a job where the odds of getting work are stacked against you, so if I can make myself more castable by being in good shape, then Id be a fool not to.
How did you achieve it?
Repetition, Repetition, Repetition. And being strict with my diet. It’s a discipline thing.
Do you still have some way to go?
Of course, I am on a constant mission to better myself in lots of ways. It’s very much a work in progress.
How do you keep fit?
I do a mixture of cardio and weight training at least 5 times a week. And I have PT sessions regularly. I also walk in Richmond Park a lot, which I love.
I’m reasonably strict with what I eat, and I pretty much cut out white bread, potatoes and white rice a few years back. I eat a lot of protein, and some complex carbs, as well as supplementing with shakes and BCAA’s.
Do you drink a lot or have you cut out drinks for health reasons?
I drink a lot less than I used to. When I left Uni, I was positively fat from all the beer. I tend to drink red wine, and vodka based drinks now. My hangovers are definitely a lot worse than they used to be, so I try and limit them.
Which bit of your body are you happiest with?
Erm, never really thought about it. I’ve always had a pretty good back I think.
What would you like to improve?
I’m always trying to improve my chest. For me, it takes a lot of commitment to gain muscle there.
Have you had any health scares? Are you cautious of any bumps or lumps you find?
I had a heart scare once from a weekend of partying. Too much Red Bull I think! I will always remember the words of the doctor ‘I think it’s quite likely that you have had or you are about to have a heart attack’. I had an angiogram where they pump dye into your heart, and the results were clear. Terrifying.
Have you had someone close to you get ill which has made you sit up and start thinking about life.
Yes my Father died six years ago of a heart attack. Hence why I was so worried about my own episode. It’s totally life changing when a parent dies. It made me really want to enjoy my life to the full, and not waste time on bullshit.
Are you happy to go to the doctor or are you a scaredy cat?
Yes, I like doctors! I’d rather know if there is a problem. None of this sweeping under the carpet malarkey.
Now you’re on screen more, how much grooming do you do now? Do you take more care about yourself?
I’m not that high maintenance. I’ve always moisturised and used a bit of wax in my hair. That’s really about it.
Yes I’ve always had that. Im very comfortable with gay men because I’ve always had a lot of gay friends. I think I became aware of gay men when I was a chorister at the age of seven and a lot of the male singers in the choir were gay. It’s never bothered me at all.
Do you have a big circle of gay mates? did any of them have trouble coming out to you?
Yes I do. I can think of one person that I encouraged to come out. Id known him since we were young, and although he never said ‘Im gay!’, I’d been pretty sure he was for ages. I think I was helpful in making his family aware because I was close to them, and I’d like to think his coming out was aided by me. We talked about it a lot beforehand, and his life is much better because he is now totally out.
If you had play gay on screen, which Hollywood star would you like to snog on screen?
Hmm, thats a tricky one. I guess someone like Clooney. I mean how bad can that be?!
When you were 16, what kind of person were you?
I was like a lot of teenagers. Confused, and rebellious. I definitely went through period of being a bit of a tit.
What kind of pupil were you?
I was mainly lazy towards things that didn’t interest me. And I would employ any tactic to get me out of things I considered to be boring. Being a music scholar helped enormously, because I could always use the ‘Im going to practice in the music department’ to get out of prep time. I broke a lot of rules but rarely got caught, and I managed to charm the teachers into liking me. I think I had a really easy ride.
Were you a casanova?
I think we both know the answer to that question. Like many men, and to quote Oscar Wilde, I am ‘extremely susceptible to the influence of the physical charms of others. Modern, no less then Ancient History, supplies us with many most painful examples of what I refer to. If it were not so, indeed, History would be quite unreadable.”
Did you suffer from any bullying? If so did you do something about it?
No If anyone tried to bully me, I would go on the attack. I was a confident little boy and I think that deterred most bullies.
Who was your teen crush? Have you met them since?
Konnie Huq, and yes we are now friends. I still fancy her.
I was really glad of all the coverage that Blake got, and they deserve it. They are in a very tough market place, and I hope it helps with their ticket sales for this year. I’m very fond of all the boys. We really were like brothers.
You all look like such squeaky clean – were you all rascals on tour???
Haha, I dont know what you mean! What goes on tour, stays on tour!